The Reverend and State Senator James Meeks Beginning to See the Light on Reforming Schools

It has taken a long time for the Reverend and State Senator James Meeks to gain the courage to tell the truth about Chicago schools and point out paths to improving student performance.

Knowing the influence of Chicago school teachers, many of whom are undoubtedly in his mega-church (Salem Baptist Church), his coming out in favor of vouchers, which would give parents the power to select the school of their choice, is truly a bold move on Meeks’ part.

Read his words in a Chicago Tribune op-ed piece yesterday:

“For the first time in my personal and political career, I am exploring the idea of vouchers and charter schools to help facilitate choice and enhance academic performance.

“Why should we continue to make investments in a system that is bankrupt and weighed down with bureaucracy?

“We must begin making decisions that are in the best interest of children, such as mandatory teacher evaluations. Since the will to change the system is nonexistent, we should allow students the flexibility to attend schools outside their district. What once worked before, such as the local school councils, may have run its course in today’s competitive environment.

“They say the definition of insanity is to do the same thing over and over again and expect different results. We can no longer afford to have the blood of every child on our hands.”

I don’t know if Meeks will expend as much energy on trying to provide parents the tools to extract a decent education from Chicago (and, maybe even private) schools, but he deserves an “attaboy!” for opening his eyes.

It won’t rank with the opening of Paul’s eyes after he was struck blind on the road to Damascus, but it is the type of leadership that resulted in the Cook County Board’s banning of video slot machines in unincorporated areas.

Would I be being picky if I pointed out that the Heartland Institute has been advocating the logic of vouchers for well over a decade?

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